PSU news by
Penn State's student blog

Topics

About

Know Your Rights on State Patty’s Day

This year, the State College community has focused all their efforts on fighting the “menace” that is State Patty’s Day. They’re bringing in the cavalry, police from beyond just Centre County in an attempt to halt our drunken revelry. They’ll even be positioning officers in the hallways of apartments in an effort to crack down on both dangerous and underage drinking.

In a time like this, it’s easy to feel scared or intimidated. It’s easy to avoid drinking altogether in fear of getting arrested, or cited for any number of offenses–underages if  you’re not 21, furnishing, public drunkenness, or a myriad of other charges. But if you know your rights, your chances of making it through State Patty’s with a clean record can rise exponentially.

I talked to Benjamin Nystrom, the director of UPUA Legal Affairs, who cleared up a number of questions regarding student behavior this weekend.

First and foremost, although downtown apartment buildings might be crawling with police, you don’t have to let them into your apartment.

“Even if they knock on your door, you still don’t have to let them in,” Nystrom explained.

Because police can’t even go that far without probable cause, or a warrant, the best tip is to come out into the hall, and to tell them you’ll turn the noise down, but that you don’t feel comfortable with them coming in without a warrant.

“The person opening the door should be 21,” Nystrom said, “and there shouldn’t be any visible alcohol inside the apartment.”

But what if you’re walking around downtown? Can a police officer just stop you if he thinks you’ve been drinking?

“The letter of the law says that you have to be visibly intoxicated,” according to Nystrom. “If you’re stumbling around, or getting sick, they’re allowed to get you for that. If you get belligerent or if you’re yelling, too.”

Even though an officer can not legally stop you unless you’re committing a criminal act, sometimes, the police can over-step their bounds, and you don’t want to get in a case of “he-said, she-said,” because the police have more authority in a court of law.

“There’s a fine line between if you’re actually acting drunk, or if they just say you are,” Nystrom said, recounting the tale of a girl who tripped and was charged with public drunkenness.

Finally, if you’re under the age of 21, a whole new set of problems arise, but you still have a defense.

Nystrom explains that pleading the fifth is always the best policy: “When they ask you for anything, or for your ID, tell them you refuse to do so unless your lawyer is present.”

And though an officer could bring you in, and hold you, “they probably won’t, because it’s such a busy day and that’s so trivial.”

Of course, the same rules apply, that an officer can’t simply stop you for no apparent reason–you must be either visibly drunk or give the police reason to believe you’re underage.

That last tip is Nystrom’s best advice for handling State Patty’s Day.

“Obviously you don’t want to be a dick, but show them that you know the rules and the law, and leave it at that, and don’t be disrespectful.”

If you do get in trouble with the law, you’ll be looking at a two-pronged process: a criminal case against you in the courts, and a disciplinary action from Penn State’s Judicial Affairs. Though you’ll need a lawyer for that first part, UPUA Legal Affairs can help you through the Judicial Affairs process.

About the Author

Devon Edwards

Devon is a 2012 Penn State graduate and current law student at NYU. Devon joined Onward State in January of 2011, after a lengthy stay in the comment section. His likes include sabermetrics, squirrels, and longs walks on the beach, and his dislikes include spelunking, when you put your clothes in the dryer and they come out still kinda damp but also warm, and the religious right.

Comments

More by Devon

Guest Column: Endorsements Keep PS4RS on Wrong Track for Accomplishing Meaningful Reform

The loudest voices in this upcoming Board of Trustees election are those who are living in the past, driven primarily by an unhealthy thirst for vengeance. They refuse to acknowledge that the present poses new and distinct challenges, and that our Trustees are the ones who must lead this university through an uncertain future.

An Apology from the Managing Editor of Onward State

Onward Debates: THON Workshops Waste of Time

Athletics

North Dakota Interested In Playing Against Penn State Hockey In Nashville

North Dakota is working towards an agreement that will see its hockey team play against Penn State in Nashville during the 2020-21 season.

Former Cal Swimmer Says She Emailed Sandy Barbour About Sexual Harassment Claims

Max Sauve Commits To Penn State Hockey

Penn State Women’s Volleyball Releases 2018 Schedule

Penn State Hoops Alumnus Joonas Suotamo’s Journey To Becoming Chewbacca Featured On ESPN’s ‘E:60’

Student Life

Penn State Love Stories: A Chance Meeting On A Service Trip

When Abby Wilt went on a service trip to Nassau, Bahamas, she had no idea she’d meet the love of her life.

10 Questions With 2019 Class Gift Director Tom Beeby

Career Services To Launch Integrated Career Management & Recruiting Platform

Plans Submitted For New KFC In State College

Developers have submitted preliminary land development plans to build a new KFC restaurant at 1780 S. Atherton St. in State College.

State Theatre Recognized As A State College Historic Site

As it approaches the 80th anniversary of its opening, the State Theatre has been recognized as a State College historic site.

Penn State Love Stories: A Chance Meeting On A Service Trip

When Abby Wilt went on a service trip to Nassau, Bahamas, she had no idea she’d meet the love of her life.

Be the first to know

  • Top posts and the best Penn State stories

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.

10 Questions With 2019 Class Gift Director Tom Beeby

Tom Beeby will serve as the 2019 Class Gift Executive Director.

Send this to a friend